Somewhere in Time (1980) / Romance-Fantasy
MPAA Rated: PG for mild violence
Running Time: 103 min.
Cast: Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, Christopher Plummer, Teresa Wright, Bill Erwin, George Voskovec, Susan French, William H. Macy (cameo), George Wendt (cameo), Tim Kazurinsky (cameo)
Director: Jeannot Szwarc
Screenplay: Richard Matheson (based on his novel, "Bid Time Return")
Review published October 10, 2005
Like something from out of the past itself, Somewhere in Time is an old-fashioned romance that came out at a time when such movies were no longer being made. Missing an audience at the time of its release, both commercially and critically, this elegant romance has earned a following over the years, and many do consider it one of their favorites in the genre. Like many of its kind, you have to be a hopeless romantic to get the full effect of it, so if you're a viewer that eschews all movies about romantic love, this isn't likely to be your bag. However, for those that have that part of them ready to receive it, Somewhere in Time is a classy and nicely developed love story that, like the central plot of the film. will have you wanting to revisit it time and again.
Christopher Reeve (Superman, The Remains of the Day) stars as playwright Richard Collier, who is visited as a college student by a strange old woman telling him to come back to her, giving him an antique time piece. Eight years later, Richard finds himself a success in his profession, but when he stays in an old hotel out in the country, he finds himself transfixed by a photo of a beautiful young actress named Elise McKenna (Seymour, Wedding Crashers) . Richard can't get her out of his mind, and in his studies, he finds that the woman in the picture and the old woman that visited him are one and the same. When he visits her home, he is saddened to learn that Elisa has passed away, but among her remaining belongings is a book that describes time travel, written by an old professor of his from his college days. Richard finds that it is possible to travel back in time under certain conditions, and through sheer determination and ingenuity, he finally meets the woman of his dreams -- back in 1912.
Although I am giving Somewhere in Time a positive review, I will readily admit that it isn't meant for everyone. At its core, it is very sweet, and some might say manipulative, so this is one of those movies that works its magic on you or it doesn't. It does for me, as there are images, pieces of music, and particular scenes that have stayed with me over the years, and although I hadn't seen the film in about two decades, it amazes me how much of it I still remember. Love, romance, nostalgia, sentimentality, and the belief that anything can happen if you just believe -- these are the themes of the story, and also the essential ingredients that should be within you to enjoy this whimsical story to its fullest.
While Matheson (Duel, Jaws 3) does a fine job in adapting his own book, and Szwarc's (Jaws 2, Supergirl) direction is effective when it needs to be, what does carry the film is the good casting, with Reeve and Seymour exuding perfect chemistry. Reeve is chivalrous and Seymour very elegant, and despite the rather short time they spend together, when they profess their feelings, it does seem to ring true.
A litmus test: if you find that you enjoy revisiting sweeping modern romance films like Titanic and The Notebook, you owe it to yourself to give Somewhere in Time a try, especially as it contains elements that both films have emulated. Call it schmaltz, call it corny, call it whatever you like -- I'll gladly take this quaint throwback over the idiotic swill that passes for date flicks today.
©2005 Vince Leo